SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Sept. 7, 2017 (Gephardt Daily/UPI) — As Powerful Hurricane Irma left a path of destruction in the eastern Caribbean Islands Thursday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said it is taking steps to help members and missionaries prepare.
The Category 5 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph, destroyed the islands’ homes and buildings and left millions without electricity.
In a statement issued Wednesday night, the LDS Church says it has instructed members and missionaries to seek shelter and prepare supplies.
The Church statement also said missionaries in affected areas have been or will be moved to other locations as necessary.
The statement on Hurricane Irma reads:
As this serious hurricane has approached the Caribbean and continues in its path west and north, we have taken important steps to prepare. Members and missionaries have been given instruction on seeking shelter, gathering food and water and preparing for the days ahead.
As necessary, missionaries have been or will be moved to other locations. As it has for other disasters, the Church is monitoring this situation closely and preparing to respond with relief and recovery efforts as soon as possible. During this critical time, the people of these regions are in our thoughts and prayers.
The death toll on Thursday morning was eight in St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, one in Anguilla and one, a child, in Barbuda.
Gaston Browne, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said the island of 1,600 people was “barely habitable” with about 95 percent of the structures damaged and communication cut off Wednesday.
From Antigua, Browne told the BBC it would cost $100 million to rebuild Barbuda.
Browne said Antigua, with a population of about 80,000 people, escaped major damage, but airplanes are unable to land on the island.
The storm passed by Puerto Rico on Wednesday afternoon, leaving about two-thirds of the island’s 1 million electric customers without power in the U.S. territory. Ramos, chief executive of the island’s electric utility, also said 56,000 of the nation’s 3.4 million residents were without potable water.
The most powerful Atlantic storm in a decade was headed to the Dominican Republican and Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas and Florida but was forecast by the National Hurricane Center to drop to a Category 4.